Friday, February 10, 2012

Pangkor to Penang

Friends on SY Tegan shared their wondrously deadly homemade Baileys into the wee hours of our final morning in the marina. Despite our heavy heads we rushed about doing all the last-minute preparations. Rene finished installing an alternative tackle block for the mainsheet. He also repaired our deflated dinghy and installed the life-raft to the stern. I cleaned and scrubbed like you wouldn't believe! Everything in and out was covered – or embedded with a thick layer of dust (despite all of our efforts to keep it from coming inside). Eventually we were ready to leave. By late afternoon we were anchored in Bogak Bay in the South Western corner of Pangkor Island. Jellyfish the size of Rene drifted by and we enjoyed our first night at anchor in many months. We stayed at 04' 12.47N 100' 33.13E.
Rene's handiwork with the mainsheet
Anima rests at anchor in Pulau Pangkor
Up pre-dawn, we motored out between the main island of Pangkor and a much smaller one (with exclusive resorts) with a nice current helping our passage. The wind picked up enough to help us along and so we sailed or motored at around 6.5 knots. Inspired to cook up some tasty foods now that I was free from constant boat work (for the minute!), I rustled up a yummy breakfast of Pikelets and a healthy potato salad for lunch (see recipes below).
Pikelets for breakfast
We anchored out from Pulau Rimau in about 7 metres of rolling swell at 05' 14.59N 100'16.32E. Ren was too nervous about nosing deeper into this small bay in case of a lee shore or uncharted rocks. So we spent a bouncy, but not uncomfortable night – at anchor next to a beautiful jungle-covered island. Again we were accompanied by giant jellies. Today we covered 67 nautical miles. 
Leaving the untouched islands, heading for the city of Penang
We caught the end of the current up through the channel between Penang and mainland Malaysia. An easy trip of only 12 miles by daylight. We anchored at the aptly named 'Junk Anchorage' (05'24.60N 100'20.59E) just out from the Tanjong City Marina. We elected not to stay in the actual marina to save money and because the marina is not in a good state of repair. Due to the constant ferries (who all leave their powerful engines running at the dock), it is almost completely silted up, leaving only a dozen berths deep enough.

Yawarra 2 was here and we enjoyed catching up with them (as usual!). We stayed for 3 days, paying 5RM each day to tie up our dinghy in one of the unusable berths. I think it's free to tie up at the jetty in the anchorage but we chose to pay so we could see Nick and Jan more often. When we visited Penang back in early January with Ben and Chihiro, we spent a similar amount of time here and left thinking of it as one giant traffic jam. This time we approached it by sea which was far less hassle and bustle. Our accommodation last time was the Red Inn Cabana where we paid about 50RM each night. This time we simply anchored in our own home, for free! 
I love Indian food!!
Nick and Jan are Penang enthusiasts. They love it. We like it a lot more too now, it's just so ALIVE! I still hate the traffic and lack of pedestrian crossings (you have to make a run for it through cars, buses, motorbikes etc. as they race along). However, I LOVE the food here. We had some amazing Indian meals, each for only $2.50 AUD. I love the pokey streets streets of Georgetown... Indian music stores pump out the latest hits and you just feel your body start to dance.... we ended up buying 3 Cd's ($12AUD). Rene went to the 'Chemical Man' to get some hardcore acids (sulphuric, hydrochloric and nitric) for working on the boat. What a place! A small room, packed to the ceiling with all manner of chemicals and related paraphernalia. The shop-owner is about 90 and knows everything about his trade. Ren is amazed that he could simply walk in and buy 1 litre of extremely toxic acids, no questions asked!
Liangtraco SDN. BHD. or 'The Chemical Man's shop'
Apart from getting our 2 month Thai visas here, we also stopped in Penang to see the Thaipusam celebrations.This festival was AMAZING. Probably my favourite cultural experience in SE Asia so far. The reason was that this celebration is for the Hindus, not for the tourists. I was allowed to be there and take photos but it was for them, not me so it was all the more authentic, alive and mind-blowingly different. I didn't find the piercings to be disgusting - instead I was constantly awed at the dedication and strength the particpants demonstrated. For 48 days prior to Thaipusam, devotees purge themselves of all mental and physical impurities. This means that they only eat one small vegetarian meal each day (24 hours prior, they must fast completely), they abstain from all pleasures (alcohol, sex, bathing in cold water and sleeping on the floor) in order to transcend from desire.

Young men wearing these Kavadi's danced in circles to hypnotic, awesome beats all night long

Offerings of coconuts, milk and rice on banana leaves with so much incense

Two men almost ready, covered in hooks - the live drumming at this point was insane!

The rod in his mouth is actually pierced right through

Heating up the drums to tune them.

Close up of the piercings

Just been pierced through his tongue

We all found it astonishing that there was no blood!

Gurus with their famous quotes were on display

Most attendees carried pails full of milk to pour over the temple.

Shrines and street art decorated the streets

Men bearing hooks pulled forward to increase the tension on the ropes.

The best live drumming I've heard in ages

The crowd culminated at a temple after having walked many miles carrying their pails or piercings.

This man is covered in piercings yet because he's in a trance, feels no pain.

Pikelets (thanks for Chihiro for this delicious recipe)
1 cup self-raising flour
pinch salt
¼ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
¾ cup sour milk*
3 tablespoons sugar (I often reduce this)
1 egg
1 dessert spoon melted butter / oil
* fresh milk soured with 1 teaspoon vinegar or lemon juice
Sift dry ingredients, add sugar. Mix to a smooth batter with beaten egg and milk. Add melted butter. Heat and grease pan, drop batter by dessert spoonfuls on to pan, cook until bubbly on top, light brown underneath. Turn, cook other side.

Healthy Potato Salad
(I haven't included all measurements because I usually just do it by feel)
Potatoes, washed/peeled, cut into large pieces (usually quarters)
Olive oil
Lemon Juice
1 teaspoon sugar
2 teaspoons sumac (a delicious Middle Eastern spice)
Capsicum, finely diced
Large green or red chillies, seeded and finely chopped
Fresh mint, chopped
Parsley, roughly chopped
Shallots or red onions, finely sliced

** You can really add whatever you like, the core ingredients are the potatoes, dressing and chillies.

Steam the potatoes until they're tender but still firm. Drain and let them cool for 10 minutes. Mix the dressing (oil, lemon juice, sugar, sumac, salt and pepper) and pour over the potatoes. Add all the other ingredients, toss lightly and serve.

Potato salad on deck

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